- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 30, 2002

SCHAERDING, Austria (Agence France-Presse) An Argentinean cleric whose church is not officially recognized by the Vatican performed an "ordination" ceremony yesterday for seven Catholic women from Austria, Germany and the United States, who thereby risked excommunication for breaking church rules.
The ceremony for the seven women, carried out on a riverboat sailing along the German-Austrian border, was performed in the presence of some 300 guests by Argentine Bishop Romulu Braschi, 60, who styles himself a "warrior of the soul" and a specialist in "karma," a belief that belongs to Hinduism.
The rite was fiercely opposed by bishops from both Austria and Germany as a "cult spectacle" that went against Catholic regulations according to which only men may become priests.
"It has happened, you can't disinvent it and we are going to enrich this church," said Angela White from the United States, one of the women.
She said that she knew of six other women who would undergo similar ceremonies at an "opportune time."
Another of the women, Gisela Forster, a German, said: "For 40 years we have put forward our arguments, and all that has happened is that the 'no' from the Catholic church has become more and more definite.
"We will now fight to have this ordination confirmed."
She added: "Just one word separates us from the church, the use of 'man' instead of 'person' in church law."
Bishop Braschi, whose 13,000-strong Jesus Rey church is not recognized by the Vatican, said yesterday that he "understood the Roman Catholic Church's nervousness."
"The Vatican is used to treating as sects anyone who differs with its dogma," he said.
Bishop Braschi has called for urgent reform in the Catholic Church, saying it could notably profit from "the ordination of female priests and the integration of families into religious life, which could give a new impulse in the face of this vocational crisis."
The "ordination" comes amid a crisis in the Austrian priesthood. Last year, only 23 priests were ordained in a country that officially counts 6 million Catholics out of a population of 8 million.
In the 1970s, 75 priests on average were ordained each year, according to church statistics.
"Women make up half of all Christians. If this ordination does not effectively conform to the laws of the church, it goes against tradition and not against faith," said Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger, a former nun who is now a teacher and spokeswoman for the group.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide